Companies producing and selling reverse osmosis units tout the systems abilities as the greatest innovation in filtration history and claim that no home can afford to be without one. As with other “snake oil salesmen” throughout history, the makers of reverse osmosis water filtration systems claims are grossly overstated.

Reverse osmosis units simply do not have a useful place in most homes around the country. Reverse osmosis water filtration systems are beneficial in some industrial applications and the portable units have military and missionary applications.

Army field units and aid giving missionaries can use portable reverse osmosis units to extract and filter water of very poor quality, creating”potable” water. Reverse osmosis water filtration systems will, for the most part, prevent immediate illness from biological contamination. They won’t filter out pesticides and other chemical contaminants, but the adverse health effects of those are typically long-term.

That is one of the major drawbacks to reverse osmosis units. Reverse osmosis water filtration systems only do part of the job.

In order to remove chemicals, such as chlorine which must be added to prevent algae from growing on the filter and to kill microscopic bacteria, water must be run through additional filters. Even water treatment facilities do not stop with reverse osmosis units. It’s only one step.

Even after chlorination and a run through reverse osmosis water filtration systems, water can still contain tiny parasites (cryptosporidium for example). They are resistant to chlorine disinfection. Only a micron filtration system that effectively removes cysts (a stage in the life of the parasite) can block them.

Treatment facilities use their reverse osmosis units to filter out raw sewage, mud, dirt particles, algae and other larger pollutants. If you have cloudy, dirty water that does not come from a public treatment facility, then you probably need reverse osmosis water filtration systems, other wise, they are a waste…a waste of money, time and water.

Whole house reverse osmosis units cost more than $10,000 and that does not include installation, for which you will need the help of a plumber and an electrician. Extensive and careful maintenance must be performed on a regular basis, or the unit will stop functioning.

The membranes in reverse osmosis water filtration systems are delicate and prone to rot. They tear easily and manufacturer’s defects can render them ineffective. If you have reverse osmosis water filtration systems, you can never be 100% confident in the quality of your water, unless you use other filters at the taps around the house.

Most of us need good water filters around our homes. If we have public water, there is chlorine to deal with. Treatment facilities cannot guarantee the absence of cryptosporidium and other illness causing cysts in the public water supply. Lead is a problem in many homes. Well water may have numerous problems.

It’s just that reverse osmosis water filtration systems will not address most of those problems. If your water is really bad, portable reverse osmosis units may be a good first step, but they are not the final or only answer.